It's the New Thing! The Step Forward Years is a truly nifty compilation issued by Sanctuary. The label has done two now, in this, the Fall's formative period, and in their Rough Trade Singles Collection, which documents the band as it seemingly "arrived." This collection of Step Forward singles and album tracks from the band's tenure with the label (1978-1980) was fruitful and ultimately enduring. The Fall issued no less than four singles and two albums during that time, beginning with the überurban primitivism of the Bingo-Master's Break-Out! EP with the amazing "Repetition," and concluding with its psychobilly Fiery Jack EP. In between are the "Rowche Rumble" single (arguably the band's finest moment from the early days) and tracks from its quintessential first two albums, Live at the Witch Trials and the formidable Dragnet. While there can be no complaining about the material that is included here, one has to wonder why Sanctuary didn't just issue a triple CD of the Fall's entire recorded Step Forward output, including the outtakes from Dragnet and the non-U.K. material on With Trials issued on the U.S. version, as well as the complete B-sides of the singles. Still, this is more than a justifiable sample of Manchester's most contentious and enduring bands. For those who got with the band during its semipopular "Cruisers Creek" or I Am Kurious Oranj periods, these early tracks will be no less than a revelation. For those who were there from the beginning, it's nice to have the era presented here with decent liner notes and great sound -- unlike the original BMG compilations of A- and B-sides in the late '80s and early '90s.
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek